While summer is technically almost over, many parts of Australia are still sweltering through some of the hottest, driest conditions we have seen. And these conditions are set to continue into autumn. When scorching temperatures combine with strong dry winds, it is a recipe for potential disaster. This could place lives and property at risk, especially in bushfire prone areas. Are your landlords aware that it is their responsibility to ensure their rental properties have smoke alarms installed and that they are functioning? Or do they assume that you or their tenants are responsible?

All residential buildings in Australia are required by law to have working smoke alarms installed in specific locations. This is because smoke alarms alert occupants to the presence of fire and therefore save lives by giving them the opportunity to escape the premises.

A spokesperson from Fire and Rescue NSW said, “It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that smoke alarms are installed and functioning.”

According to the National Construction Code 2016, smoke alarms should be installed:

  • Between the parts of the property that contain bedrooms and the rest of the property,
  • In any hallways connecting to a bedroom, and
  • On any storeys of the building that do not contain smoke alarms.

Fire and Rescue NSW takes this rule a step further and recommends that smoke alarms in every bedroom and living space of a dwelling be interconnected. “This ensures that if one activates, they all sound an alarm, thereby maximising safe escape time in the event of a fire.”

Research conducted in Queensland last year by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service revealed that 15% of the state’s households were without operational smoke alarms. Furthermore, the research found that only 20% of Queensland residential properties had smoke alarms installed in main bedrooms, despite new legislation that will require Queensland rental properties to have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in every bedroom by 1 January 2022.

The key message for property managers here is that landlords have an obligation and duty of care to ensure their properties are safe for tenants and that includes working smoke alarms.

A PropertySafe inspection report offers an optional extra fire safety check, which inspects the condition of the smoke alarms. By offering your landlords the opportunity to have this inspection completed, it places the onus on them to accept or decline the offer. That means that if something goes wrong, your agency is not at fault.

If accepted, the inspection is completed and the landlord is sent the report, which includes recommendations for action with a focus on safety (including fire safety). Click here for a sample report.

As property manager, you are only advised of any major safety hazards (hazards that are potentially life threatening).  This would include fire hazards, such as the lack of functioning smoke alarms and/or the presence of overgrown trees and shrubs close to the home or blocked gutters. The report makes the landlord aware of the level of risk in their property enabling them to take action to mitigate those risks.

Don’t let your landlords put their tenants and properties at risk with inadequate fire safety precautions. To learn more about the benefits of a PropertySafe inspection, call 1300 350 000.

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